Life shouldn’t be about the Drama

220px-Yes_-_Topographic_Drama_-_Live_Across_America_cover

Yes: Topographic Drama – Live Across America

Now does the world really need another Yes album? The past few years have seen the current incarnation of the band tour, bringing to life full album shows, and the albums that have been played in their entirety have been Fragile, Close to the Edge, The Yes Album, Going for the One and on their latest jaunt Drama and excerpts from Tales from Topographic Oceans, and with the shows have come several double disc sets Likie it is Bristol Colston hall & Like it is at the Meza Arts Centre.

I have to admit some bias here, as I saw this incarnation of Yes (The Howe, White, Downes, Davison, Sherwood) at Colston Hall on their UK leg, where they played Drama in it’s entirety on stage and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So, before I get into the nitty gritty and I certainly don’t want to stir up a hornets nest but…..I will broker no arguments as to whether or not this is Yes, it says Yes on the tin, it has Steve Howe and Alan White who have been mainstays longer than they haven’t, Geoff Downes credentials are beyond reproach, and Billy Sherwood and Yes have had intertwining careers for over 20 years, and he was handpicked by Chris Squire to stand in (and sadly replace) him in Yes, with Jon Davison fitting in perfectly, this to me is Yes in spirit, and even though there’s no original members left, does that matter? No, no it doesn’t. I am sure some people miss Jon Anderson, but as he’s concurrently touring with Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman, then brilliant news. Two bands playing Yes music, fantastic for the fans and it means different songs get an airing.

The music is spiritually uplifting and moving, (and Yes have a special place in my heart being the first prog band I really got into) and so I don’t really think that we should sully the music and the memories by getting into petty discussions as to whether a band is a band or not. This is Yes, and that’s my final word on that subject.

Now this album is a game of two halves for me, containing as it does my favourite Yes album, and one of my least favourite of the 70’s Yes albums.

Drama, is the definitive Yes album for me, it is so sharp, so crisp, everything is so right about this record, that hearing it live is a dream come true for a Yes fan.

From the opening Machine Messiah, the brilliant Man in a White Car, the pounding Does it Really Happen with the thundering bass of Billy Sherwood more than deftly stepping into the great mans shows, and with Into the Lens and the stunning Tempur Fugit, this line up Yes (3/5ths of the band that made Drama BTW) have picked up where it left off and given it the rebirth and reinvigoration it needs. Geoff Downes is all over those keyboard sounds, whilst Steve Howe plays like a man half his age, Alan White is still the mainstay on the drums. Drama is like a neglected jewel in the attic, and this line up have polished it and brought it back to where it should be, at the heart of the bands set.

Topographic Oceans meanwhile, left me under whelmed when I first heard it, and sadly nothing has changed, the band do their best, and there is nothing at all wrong with the bands performance and again Billy Sherwood comes in for huge praise as to how he steps into the band, his bass rumbling and thundering, you get distracted and listen and think it’s the great man himself. (Having seen him live Billy really does own the stage, and seems genuinely overwhelmed by the positive reaction his performance gets).

I enjoyed it enough to listen to once, but then, that’s why there are skip buttons on the CD player.

The additional tracks from other albums including a rousing Heart of the Sunrise, a brilliant Roundabout and then, the old warhorse itself Starship Trooper, dusted off and brought out for its umpteenth live release.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the song, I think this version is as good as any of the other live ones, I just think maybe they could throw something into the mix from albums like The Ladder, Fly From Here or Subway Walls from Heaven and Earth to truly reflect the bands history. I especially think anything from Fly From Here would be perfect due to its close relationship with the Drama material.

In other words, to answer my original question, does the world need another Yes live album? As it’s got Drama on, performed in it’s entirety, or course it does, you’d be mad not to want to listen to Drama live.

 

4 thoughts on “Life shouldn’t be about the Drama

  1. I spent that week studying with Steve Howe and think he’s great, and heard his lineup a few years back when Chris was still alive and playing with them and thought they were great. I avoid the small-d-drama of it all, myself, and wish the best to all the Yes folks of all vintages and touring groups–

    I have to say though that I personally adored the album Adventures in Modern Recording which a lot of this album seemed to have been taken from–I had heard and loved The Buggles album for a long time before Drama came out, and so it never grabbed me since I was attached enough to the Buggles one. I do love Fly From Here though and agree that some of that live might be ace–

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  2. YserbiusGANDALF

    Well I for one happen to have tales in my top Yes albums and don’t see how any prog minded person could summarily dismiss it, Drama to me was an effort to add some of the pop of the time into YES in order to expand the audience, it’s all well and fine but to me has now become dated, where as fragile with its pop leanings is as fresh today as when it was recorded. Tales may be complicated and some portions possibly over blown it will be a piece of music that could still be listened to 50 years on. IMHO

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  3. I love your attitude in regards to the spirit of the music. I am a causal Yes fan. I greatly respect what the band has done over the years. My three favorite albums by the band are Fly From Here, 90125 and Relayer. Three atypical albums by the band, but those are the ones that really speak to me.

    I am a HUGE Genesis fan. Genesis has been gone for many years now and fans still debate and argue as to which lineup was the “real” Genesis. I love pretty much everything that the band put out.

    When it comes to Yes I applaud the fact that there are still band members that want to continue to play their amazing music. Yes are a unique band in regards to their ever changing lineups. The fact that the current lineup has no original member is not an issue for me. The band contains members who all, with the exception of Jon Davidson, have history with the band. Even now Jon Davidson is carving out his own piece of Yes history.

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  4. It was an incredible concert to experience and this is a excellent recording of it. I only wish there were a DVD as well. I loved hearing Drama live, but Man in a White Car is brilliant? 🙂 And this version of Ritual is even with the Songs from Tsongas one; both are second only to the Symphonic Live tour CD/DVD.

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